Ian McKellen is honored for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre.
Sir Ian McKellen is about to reprise his starring role in Pinter’s No Man’s Land, which he previously did on Broadway in 2013 opposite Patrick Stewart. The London opening at the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre is set for September 20. During the run, he is already now set to receive a major U.K. award: October 9 he is to receive the annual special award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre in the U.K. Theatre Awards. According to the press citation, he will receive it “in recognition of his tireless work both in championing diversity and for his commitment to theatre, including touring productions, across the country.”
McKellen and Stewart both toured the production of No Man’s Land to sell-out houses in the U.K. As lead producer Nick Salmon of Playful Productions told me in a recent interview, “Patrick and Ian see it as part of their duty to take the show out to the regions. Because of the way their availability fell and Christmas, we couldn’t stay longer on the road, but they would have done it if they could. It’s been playing to capacity and it’s been an absolute joy; it’s wonderful for the local theatres to have stars of that calibre in a quality piece of work like that. It’s important and the theatres really appreciate it—and hopefully they’ll be making some money, too.”
Ronald Harwood announces stipulation that no woman should play the leading role in his play The Dresser.
Veteran playwright Ronald Harwood, whose 1980 play, The Dresser, is currently touring en route to a return to the West End in October, has publicly stated that he would never permit a woman to play the lead role of the actor in that play, because that character has played King Lear 227 times. “It would just make an absolute nonsense of my play and I don’t want to do that. It is just impossible. How could it happen? It’s impossible for a woman to play Lear more than 100 times. It would be nonsense, it wouldn’t happen.” He’s obviously unaware of the fact that this fall Glenda Jackson is already lined up to play that role in a new production at the Old Vic from October 25.
Now Michelle Terry, who this past summer played the title role in Henry V at London’s Open Air Theatre, has responded publicly, saying, “Me having a vagina did not make any difference at all... It is so irrelevant, especially in a play like Henry V, which asks you: ’On your imaginary forces work.’ So it is the limits of your imagination that will define the extent of what we can do on stage. And thank goodness, most people’s imaginations are incredibly huge.”
The Girls will transfer to West End—with no premium pricing or booking fees.
Yet another stage musical is being newly made out of a British film, following in the footsteps of such tuners as Made in Dagenham, Bend It Like Beckham and Mrs Henderson Presents (all premiered in the West End) and Kinky Boots and The Full Monty (first premiered on Broadway). Now The Girls, a new musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth based on the 2003 film Calendar Girls, is set to begin performances at the West End’s Phoenix Theatre January 28. Calendar Girls was itself previously adapted for the stage in a straight play version that premiered at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2008 and subsequently transferred to the West End.
Throwing down the gauntlet to fellow West End producers, David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers have announced a commitment to there being no “premium-rated” seats, no additional booking fees and reduced price previews.
Other London News
Joe DiPietro is the two-time Tony winning-librettist and lyricist of Memphis, who has also been represented on Broadway by his Tony-nominated book for Nice Work if You Can Get It, as well as his original play Living on Love and the book for the musical All Shook Up. His 2009 London fringe play F***ing Men, based on Schnitzler’s La Ronde, has been frequently staged at the King’s Head, Arts Theatre and Edinburgh Fringe. It is now set to return to London to play in a new three-man version at the Vaults. Full casting has been announced for the London bow of Lazarus, at King’s Cross Theatre from October 25. Joining original New York cast members Michael C. Hall, Michael Esper and Sophia Anne Caruso are Gabrielle Brooks, Sydnie Christmas, Richard Hansell, Amy Lennox, Maimuna Memon, Jamie Muscato, Tom Parsons and Julie Yammanee. Full casting has also been announced for the London production of An American in Paris, coming to the Dominion from March 4, with Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope reprising the performances they originated. Ashley Day will be alternate to Fairchild, and assume the role full-time from June 19; they are joined by Jane Asher, Haydn Oakley, Zoë Rainey and David Seadon-Young in principal roles.
For further news…
Stay tuned to Playbill.com—and follow me on Twitter here, @shentonstage, for rolling news updates as they happen.